Takeaways from the 2020 State of the Union Address

On February 4, 2020, President Donald Trump gave his third State of the Union Address. President Trump emphasized the economy, the military, trade, and border security among other topics. He called the theme of his three years in office so far “the great American comeback.”

Trump did not make any mention of the impeachment trial as he spoke in front of the senators who would be voting whether to impeach or acquit him the very next day. As Trump took the podium, he handed a copy of his speech to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Pelosi extended her hand for a handshake and Trump refused the gesture, instead turning away from her to face the audience.

Throughout the speech, Trump spoke in grand terms about the results of his time in office. One of the Trump administration’s biggest claims to success is the economy. Trump said that his presidency led to the “great economic success” that the world is currently experiencing. He said that the stock markets have soared and claimed that wealth is being distributed from wealthy people and companies into poor neighborhoods.

Trump credited his administration with creating 7 million new jobs, bringing the unemployment rate to the “lowest in nearly half a century,” and raising the net worth of the bottom half of wage-earners bringing about a “blue-collar boom.” He also spoke about poverty rates among women and African-Americans being at all-time lows. While the employment and poverty rates are low, these trends started years before Trump took office.

The president mentioned that the US is the number one producer of oil and natural gas in the world. He then later announced that the US was part of an initiative to plant one trillion trees in efforts to protect the environment.

The United States Mexico Canada Agreement was one of Trump’s main talking points. The new trade deal that replaced the North American Free Trade Agreement was recently signed into law. Trump also talked about trade relations with China, saying “we have a good relationship with China.” He said the new deal will create nearly 100,000 auto jobs, but the independent federal commission estimates a growth of 28,000 jobs.

Trump also touched on the unrest in Venezuela mentioning that the US is leading an uprising against Nicholas Maduro. He pointed out the president of the National Assembly in Venezuela, Juan Guaido who was in the audience and referred to him as the “true and legitimate president of Venezuela.”

Trump’s stance on education during the speech included recognizing fourth grader, Janiah Davis, who had been on a waiting list to go to the school she wanted. Trump awarded Davis with an opportunity scholarship to go to the school of her choice. He also vowed to offer vocational and technical education at every high school in America.

When the long controversial topic of healthcare came up, Trump praised his healthcare plans saying the new plans are less expensive and better overall. He also attacked the healthcare-for-all-platform, saying “people want to take away your doctors and healthcare and wipe out health insurance plans of millions of healthy and happy Americans…we will never let socialism destroy American healthcare.”

After speaking about healthcare, Trump recognized talk radio host Rush Limbaugh, who recently announced his battle with late stage cancer. Trump awarded Limbaugh with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, one of the highest civilian honors in the US. First Lady, Melania Trump, who was sitting next to Limbaugh, presented him with the medal. This was the first time a president has given this award at the State of the Union.

To illustrate Trump’s pro-life viewpoint and his policies towards children, he recognized a young girl and her mother in the audience. Two-year-old Ellie Schneider was born at 21 weeks, one of the youngest premature babies to survive. Trump went on to ask Congress to ban late term abortion of babies as well as approve paid family leave. He also touched on the child tax credit which provides credit to parents based on how many children they have.

Near the end of Trump’s speech, he brought up immigration. He criticized sanctuary cities saying they “release dangerous criminal aliens to prey on the public.” He said that increased border security and the ever-rising wall are leading to border crossings going down and drug seizures going up.

Trump’s final surprise of the night was recognizing Amy Williams and her children. Williams’ husband, Townsend Williams, had been deployed for several months. Trump announced that Townsend Williams was home from his deployment and in attendance. The family turned around to see their father and husband walking in to hug them.

With 2020 elections around the corner, many Americans are hoping for a change in administration. Others are hoping for “four more years” of Trump as many Republican congressmen chanted during the State of the Union. It remains to be seen what the president will do in the final year of this term.